Jul 23, 2020 in Law

Cyber Rights: Defending Free Speech in the Digital Age

Without a doubt, the issue of cyber rights remains rather actual nowadays. In the contemporary discourse, it engenders a dispute discussion, as this term covers the essential conceptions of interpersonal communication. Specifically, it is worth taking into consideration. The presented book “Cyber Rights: Defending Free Speech in the Digital Age” written by lawyer Mike Godwin appears to portray the particular features of this controversial inquiry. Thus, this article is to analyze the distinguishing characteristics of this creation, elucidate the leading ideas, and provide a critical overview of the outlined notions.

This book was released in 1998 by Times Books. It turned out to be a non-fiction creation that achieved a tremendous commercial success. In the context of 2003, it was republished and improved to some extent, as the author tried to conduct some additional work and broadened his vision about the current problem.


Indeed, the theme of free speech that Mike Godwin attempts promoting in a quotidian life is apparent in his narration. It has inherited the effect of “mirror reflection” concerning the writer’s main principles and beliefs. According to such perception, this material can be characterized as an autobiographical creation of a lawyer. Without a doubt, the first-person perspective proves such theory.

Remarkably, this document envisages the historical modifications dealt with the development of freedom of speech in the Internet. The author uses his experience to depict the numerous conceptions concerning the legal issues and occurrences in the cyberspace. He claims that the defense of free speech online has become his prominent task in a daily life, and he could not minimize the significance of this problem under any pretext. His provocative statement that "the remedy for the abuse of free speech is more speech" causes the further debate. It should be mentioned that such position may face the mass of criticism, but this inquiry requires a precise evaluation, as it pertains to the category of legislative system. The protection of free speech turns out to be the central theme of this book. In other words, such subject forms the favorable prerequisites for the further research.

Godwin suggests that the realization of this essential principle should be guaranteed by the First Amendment of the United States. The founder of this book underlines the double nature of the Internet privacy and accurately discusses the role of the government involvement. He makes a parallel between the Internet safety and the governmental intervention, critically analyzing the potential risks and threats of such policy. Besides, he pays a precise attention to the problematic conception of equality. In the aspect of the implementation of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, he claims that its application should be based on the equal positions assured both from the official and social institutions. Only this cooperation will ameliorate the present state of things and assist in overcoming the current inquiries of the Internet security.

It is worth emphasizing that the connection between principles of cyberspace and law appears to be a prominent line during the whole book. As a professional lawyer, the author helps to clarify the major principles and discover the historical background of this term. The usage of such principles promotes a clear vision of the relevance of the cyber rights in the context of the recent changes. As a result, the writer tries to depict a delicate balance between the inquiry of individual rights, freedom of speech, and the dominance of technological advancements. He is sure that the Internet will make the community stronger only due to the cumulative efforts of everyone. An individual is likely to cooperate with the mainstreams in news media, online debates, and other controversies. However, it is more important to preserve the real human qualities and save the face of a person.

Godwin portrays the traditional challenges that a user may experience searching the Net. As a rule, the problems of defamation, sexual harassment, copyright, and issues involving privacy are becoming more widespread in the online context. Specifically, the author thinks that they are not as important as the freedom of speech. That is why this prominent notion occupies one of the most pretentious places in the narrator’s presentation. As Godwin could flourish in cyberspace and devotes the enormous amount of time to this issue, the appearance of the following conceptions has become an appropriate occurrence.

“Cyber Rights” provides a critical evaluation of the new frontiers in the sphere of the digital society. It generalizes the major cases when the virtual world faces the basic ethical principles. The book also discusses the victims of such aggression and examines this point under the term of privacy. Indeed, the invisible battle between the copyright and intellectual property still continues.

The following chapters turn to elucidate the number of strategies aimed to fight against the “cyberporn panic” and relieve the society from the dramatic consequences of the over usage of such content. Godwin analyzes this term from the position of a layer. He envisages the Communications Decency Act of 1996 (CDA) and outlines its coherence with the presented problem.

By the way, the effect of Internet pornography discredits the whole community. The narrator does not know how to avert the potential threat of mass degradation and argues whether it will be possible in the nearest future. He states that the majority of the people try to defeat the CDA. Nevertheless, the values of democracy should not be underestimated. Godwin supports the position that “the decisions we make about the Internet don't affect just the Internet”. They have a tremendous influence on every citizen, family, or government. However, the fundamental human rights are to be maintained and assured by the Constitution, and their dominance could not be overemphasized.

It can be added that the book ensures a provocative discussion concerning the social and legal issues of online communication. The writer describes these complicated conceptions from the sarcastic and anecdotal points of view. He illustrates the web-related legal aspects in a detailed manner, letting a reader engender the further reflections and question the general truth. In the aspect of writer’s professionalism and the legacy of the arguments, the “win-win” strategy of this book is provided from the position of criticism. Godwin understands that the development of technologies has become one of the major reasons for such dramatic tendencies. However, he does not blame the technological advancements for this. The answer lies in the controversial human nature.

As the writer provides an unusually broad view of free speech, his main suppositions and assumptions are portrayed in a predictable manner. Even the dissemination of dangerous information comes under the thoughtful examination. Godwin believes that the regulation of cyberspace may transform the uncensored Internet into a real democratic community. His casual and conversational style applies to every reader and makes the audience share the underlined principles. As a result, a passionate perspective from the area of law arises in the context of the introduction to the vital notions of cyber security.

To conclude, it is essential to highlight that the “Cyber Rights” turns out to be a “must read” creation. The narrator struggles to preserve freedom of speech in the Internet, and this particularity is worth taking into consideration. In the modern community, the constitutional rights appear to lose its significance in the digital epoch. Nevertheless, Godwin shows that the application of the law could preserve the population from degradation. This step will also assist in maintaining the vital democratic values. All in all, cyberspace possesses the numerous dangers and challenges, but the appropriate attitude based on the human principles may protect the freedom of speech in the Internet.


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